Sen. Kaine introduces plan to help with teacher shortage in Virginia

ROANOKE, Va. – Sen. Tim Kaine introduced a bill he hopes will help with the teacher and principal shortage across the Commonwealth. 

The Preparing and Retaining Education Professionals Act, or PREP,  would help ensure there are enough skilled teachers and principals to educate students.

Kaine said the bill would provide ideas for producing more teachers.

The City of Danville, Bland County, Martinsville, and Appomattox and Bath counties had the highest percentage of unfilled teacher positions for 2016 to 2017, according to the Department of Education. 

"Many school systems have very dedicated paraprofessionals in the classroom, reading specialists, teacher's aides who are not fully licensed teachers, but they love children. They are in the area and they would be great teachers," said Kaine. 

The act focuses on schools in rural communities to tackle the statewide issue.

Danville City Public Schools is listed twice for both highest percentage and the highest number of unfilled teacher positions. Dr. Stanley Jones said they revised the teacher salary scale to increase every year as a way to keep teachers. 

"Any effort to enhance teacher salary and teacher pay is not only the right thing to do for teachers. It's an economic issue for this country if we do not invest in public education," said Dr. Jones. 

Bland County has filled all its positions. 

"I am happy to announce we have all of our positions filled for the 2018-2019 school year.  I am excited about the legislation Sen. Kaine has introduced and, hopefully, it helps to combat the growing problem of the shortage of qualified K-12 educators in the commonwealth," said Scott Meade, superintendent.